A cross-party group of MPs and Lords have united to protect pension scam victims and develop a range of policies to prevent scammers from operating in the country.
The new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pension Scams has held its first meeting in Westminster today (March 16) to discuss ways in which it can protect and warn the public about ongoing risks they face in regards to pension scammers.
Spearheaded by former pensions minister Baroness Altmann, the group's aim is to protect the public from pension scams and secondary scammers, give scam victims a representative collective voice, signpost victims to support, and facilitate the development of preventative and supportive policy initiatives.
Baroness Altmann said as coronavirus causes more people to stay at home, the risks of being caught by online or cold-calling scammers will increase and so a group to put a stop to this is more important than ever.
Baroness Altmann said: “As more people are forced to stay at home and investment markets have plunged, the risks of cold-calling criminals or on-line fraudsters reaching more savers and luring them into scam investments have grown.
“Government and regulators have been trying to deal with this problem for years, but it continues to worsen and this new All Party Parliamentary Group is being established to work together across political party lines, to find ways of protecting and warning the public about the ongoing risks they face.”
Often the tactics used by fraudsters are to persuade savers to transfer their money into high risk investment opportunities, or high-return special pension funds, which are made to sound like an attractive proposition.
Baroness Altmann added: “Unregulated firms often pretend to be regulated, or pass on names to other firms who entice unsuspecting members of the public into transferring to bogus investments.
“It is vital that we improve early warning systems and liaison between advisers, providers and regulators, so that more scams can be prevented.
“The regulatory system has focused mostly on trying to catch the criminals after fraud has already occurred – but this takes such a long time that many more people have usually lost out by the time any action is taken.’’
According to the group, most MPs have constituents who have been the target of pension scams but many are too ashamed to tell others and spread awareness.
The APPG will elect officers and confirm its mission statement this afternoon. So far 32 parliamentarians have stepped forward to be elected to the APPG, including Jack Dromey, the shadow pensions minister.
Andy Agathangelou, founder of the Transparency Task Force, a consumer campaign organisation, said: “It is clear that there is a need for more and better thinking around what should be done to mitigate the risk of the UK’s pension-saving public falling prey to sophisticated scammers; and also to help those that have been scammed.
“We are doing all we can to support this initiative including acting as the secretariat for the new APPG.